Low vitamin D levels predict nursing home admission
The results of study conducted in the Netherlands, published in the September, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that having a low level of serum vitamin D is associated with a greater risk of being admitted to a nursing home within six years, and may increase the risk of dying within a similar amount of time.
Marjolein Visser and colleagues at Vrije University in Amsterdam used data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, a prospective study of 3,107 men and women aged 55 to 85 upon enrollment between 1992 and 1993, who were examined after 3, 6 and 9 years of follow up. The current study included 1,260 participants over the age of 65 who participated in the first follow up.
Stored serum samples analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) between 1997 and 1998 were classified as deficient (under 25 nanomoles per liter), insufficient, borderline, or normal (greater than or equal to 75 nanomoles per liter). Over the six year period, 138 participants were admitted to nursing homes. Between the beginning of the study and April, 2003, there were 380 deaths.
There were 58 nursing home admissions among participants with deficient levels of vitamin D compared to 5 among those whose vitamin D levels were normal. Adjusted analysis found that vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of nursing home admission by more than three times the risk experienced by those with normal levels. Vitamin D insufficient and borderline patients also experienced greater risk. Additionally, the risk of dying during the designated period was increased by vitamin D deficiency. After adjustment for age, gender, and education, vitamin D deficiency was associated with a 61 percent greater risk of death compared to that of participants whose vitamin levels were normal, however, this risk did not appear to be significant after further adjustment for health, lifestyle, and frailty.
The authors suggest that the greater risk of nursing home admission among individuals with deficient and insufficient vitamin D levels could be due to their increased muscle weakness and risk of falls, as well as a greater risk of osteoporosis. “Lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations in older men and women are associated with a greater risk of future nursing home admission and may be associated with a greater mortality risk,” the authors conclude. “These results could indicate that lower vitamin D concentrations may specifically affect the level of independence in old age.”
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